Stroke is the third leading cause of death in America, killing 150,000 people a year. The survivors can face a difficult challenge, as they may need to relearn simple activities such as talking, reading or dressing themselves.
For one neuroscientist, experiencing a massive stroke and recovering from it resulted in a completely different understanding of how the brain works. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor stars in a popular YouTube videoclip. Now she shares her unique perspective on how the two halves of our brains work together, and what the right brain contributes when the left side is affected by a stroke.
This is the second show in a two-part series on stroke.
Guest: Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD, is a neuroanatomist and a stroke survivor affiliated with the Indiana University School of Medicine. She was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world for 2008. Her book is titled: My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey. Her Web site is drjilltaylor.com
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  1. audrey A
    Reply

    This audio really helps me appreciate further the real meaning of STROKE. In my country, self submission to check up is a buzz. People sometimes run to the emergency room and having treatment if only they experience the worst scenario of the disease. In my case, some of my family members are hypertensives, they were given maintenance but the problem is they didn’t faithfully follow the lifestyle change to prevent stroke. I got my some relatives died due to complication of HPN which is Stroke. After I listen to this audio and share it to my family, friends they now consciously and faithfully follow doctors advices. Thank you so much. I saved my family.

  2. Mike (Raleigh NC)
    Reply

    LPR……..Your comments really hit home….in November 2006, our then 13 year old daughter suffered an AVM and was also in the hospital 4 months. Three years later, she is now a Junior in HS, and doing well. The AVM hit her cerebellum, so her main deficit is balance and coordination. She used a wheelchair her Freshman year, and has taken a walker to school for the past 2 years, and has just started walking without a walker, but she tends to lose her balance.
    There are some other minor side effects in our daughter’s case (i.e., concentration is not what it used to be, etc.). However, we are very blessed that God saw to it that she survived, and we feel that she was spared because God has big plans for her. She has been an inspiration to a lot of people, and to her parents. Hang in there and enjoy every day God has given you.

  3. JOHN F.
    Reply

    SUPERB !! I LEARNED MORE ABOUT BRAIN PHYSIOLOGY THAN I HAD PREVIOUSLY LEARNED IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.
    THANK YOU AND MY COMPLIMENTS TO JILL BOLTE TAYLOR.

  4. J J B
    Reply

    The guest, telling a long story about her stroke, was interesting for 5-10 minutes.

  5. Susanna J.
    Reply

    My mother suffered two strokes in 2002, one during the night of recovery from a knee surgery (she was only two months out from finishing a sequence of chemotherapy for lung cancer) which left her humbled and perceptionally impaired but otherwise alive and well; and the second 10 days after that which was massive and left her unable to eat, speak, move.
    She was miserable in the hospital all hooked up to several drips, could only wink as communication, did not want to speak; in short, she seemed to be declining daily and the doctor said there was little hope of her improving because of the damage to her brain. She was 83 years old, had been very feisty and it was devastating watching her suffer from all the medications and vacillations in temperature she was experiencing.
    I was her primary caregiver, and with the help of one sister out of five, we decided we should let her go rather than keep her alive as an invalid unable to move, eat, speak. After listening to your program I think perhaps we didn’t give her enough time. Her second stroke was on October 28th. Here is an entry from my journal during those days:
    She’s continued to degrade going from winking at me and smiling, no talking cause she can’t form the words but she did try and make sounds, to being semi comatose. It was a sub-thalamic stroke affecting the cranial nerves. It has expanded over these days to completely disable her. She still recognized me Wednesday night, I got my last wink and smile, but now her eyes look into nothingness. She’s on a feeding tube, heart monitor, glucose IV, and has to have restraints on her little hands so she doesn’t pull out the feeding tube.
    She won’t last much longer, nor would she want to. We’ve started giving her morphine for pain. As her brain loses more cells the body controls are degenerating. She got a high temp last night and a wild heartbeat. She’s resting okay as I speak, but unless a major miracle occurs, she won’t survive.
    Well, that is what I know about it. Do you think in this case there really was anything else to do? It was the hardest month of my life. She came home after two weeks and we watched her slowly starve to death in her own bed. Was that better than waiting for her to possibly improve with bed sores and a permanent feeding tube? What do you know about sub-thalamic strokes?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: SUSANNA, IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU DID EXACTLY THE RIGHT THING. WE WILL ALL DIE SOMEDAY OF SOMETHING, AND YOU GAVE HER THE CHANCE TO DIE AT HOME. THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WOMAN IN HER 40S AND ONE IN HER 80S IN TERMS OF THE RESILIENCE, PHYSICAL STRENGTH, AND TIME AVAILABLE FOR A LENGTHY RECUPERATION. AND JILL BOLTE TAYLOR DID TAKE A LONG TIME TO RECOVER TO HER PRESENT ASTONISHING SELF.

  6. Chris Z
    Reply

    Thank you Thank you! I have suffered from extreme migraines since age 23. Almost 2 years ago, I believe I experienced my first TIA, and subsequently one this past July. It seemed like forever to recover sufficiently from the first, primarily because I kept being misdiagnosed. The July incident (while misdiagnosed in the ER as a Complex Migraine), took me into October to completely recover, and still there are times when I experience some dysphasia. Most of the damage appears to be located in the frontal lobe. I was able to totally relate to Dr. Bolte Taylor when she was talking about multi-tasking. This seems to be a function that I have lost. If I attempt to multi-task, I get an overwhelming sense of confusion. We have possibly linked my issues to FVL (Factor V Leiden) and 2 icky MTHFR genes on Chromosome 1.

  7. LPR
    Reply

    Thank you NPR for airing this show. My now 8 year old daughter experienced a stroke from an AVM this past February. I was just recommended this book a couple of months ago by a family member. I can’t express how powerful this story is…having the personal experience of an adult who had a stoke as a result of the exact same condition AND is educated in neuro-science is phenomenal! My daughter is very young for such an experience and does not remember her stroke; she also spent 4 months in the hosipital 3 or which were in ICU in an induced comma; therefore she has not been able to articulate her experience. She is back to “normal life” but life is very different for her and our family; we are struggling to respect and embrace the “new self” while still pushing for improvement. Thank you for reminding me that recovery is a journey…

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